A Tiny Japanese Town Is Home to the World’s First Zero Waste Brewery

By Noah Kaufman |
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From pledges to use renewable energy to brewing with actual waste, those in the craft beer world regularly put their commitment to environmentally conscious practices front and center. A new brewery in Japan may be the greenest yet, claiming to run a zero waste operation.

Rise and Win Brewery is located in the town of Kamikatsu, Japan, which carries the distinction of being the first municipality in the country to declare itself a zero waste zone. Right now “zero waste” is more of an aspirational term than a technical one—some garbage from the town does have to go to a landfill—but Kamikatsu has accomplished to cut its waste quite impressively since the declaration in 2003. There are no incinerators and no garbage trucks. 98 percent of town residents compost all their organic material and wash and sort their trash into 34 different categories. That meticulous process allows over 80 percent of all garbage to become compost, be recycled, or, in the case of Rise and Win, be actively reused.

The brewery hired architect Hiroshi Nakamura to design a brewery in keeping with the town’s policies. Nakamura constructed the façade out of recycled mill ends and used persimmon juice and iron oxide to finish it naturally. Inside you’ll find light fixtures made of old bottles and tables and chairs once thrown out by townspeople.

As for the beer, Rise and Win is part of the growing craft beer movement in Japan. Eschewing the tame, watery lagers that dominated the Japanese beer scene as recently as the early part of this decade, Rise and Win bottles a pale ale, an IPA, a porter and a Belgian-style white. According to the brewery’s Facebook page, they only just opened their doors on May 30. So the only place to purchase their stuff is straight from the brewery. But if you find yourself in Southeast Japan and want to see some green brewing in action, it’s worth a stop.

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